New Music Reviews: Mid-February Releases

by | Mar 14, 2020 | CD Reviews, Reviews

Lift His Name is the first release by Karen Peck & New River since 2017’s Hope For All Nations. Five of the nine songs are co-written by Karen. A song written by former group member Ricky Braddy is also included (“I Know Jesus Lives”).

“The God I Serve” is a powerful opener. The orchestration is a bit bombastic but should translate well to the concert stage. “Made Right” dials the energy back a few notches, and while I wouldn’t consider it to be the top song on Lift His Name, it’s in a great position as the second track to let listeners know there will be some variety. Grant Gibson shows his range on “I Know Jesus Lives” both in terms of the pitches he can hit and how he can transition from an expressive communicator at the beginning to a power lead singer by the end.

The shifts in tempo, the feel of anticipation as we get into each verse, and the payoff at each chorus on “The Book” are great examples of creative production elevating a simple lyric. “The Love Of Jesus” is a somewhat predictable, soulful arrangement in 6/8 time, but it’s a formula that works well. “Messiah Overcame” is a Big Ballad™ in the classic Big Ballad™ tradition. “When I Lift Up The Name” features Kari, and like “Made Right,” dials the intensity back for a moment.

“Ain’t No Grave” was a song written by Claude Ely in 1934 (according to legend). A few years ago, some new verses were written to go with Ely’s original chorus and popularized by Bethel Music. I’m disappointed that in this CD’s packaging only the writers of the recent adaptation are listed! There is no acknowledgment of Ely! I’m not sure how this sort of oversight can occur when all four writers including Ely are clearly listed at BMI.

That aside, “Ain’t No Grave” is my second favorite track on Lift His Name behind “The Book.”

Producer: Wayne Haun
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: The God I Serve; Made Right; I Know Jesus Lives; The Book; The Love Of Jesus; Messiah Overcame; When I Lift Up The Name; All About Yes; Ain’t No Grave
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 stars)
Version Reviewed: CD

Click HERE to listen to this entire album at YouTube Music.

The newest release by Randy Travis is titled Precious Memories: Worship & Faith: Hymns & Gospel Favorites. Why stop at one subtitle when you can have two?

Whoever put this CD together clearly has no concept of pacing. The recording strings four slow songs in a row at the start, so you may run the risk of going to sleep initially. Later, toward the end of the CD, there are a few mid-tempo and faster tracks grouped together.

In truth, what we have here are 12 tracks including 9 you may already own from Travis’ 2003 release titled Worship & Faith, 2 you may already own from his 2005 release titled Glory Train, and “Three Wooden Crosses” from his 2002 release titled Rise And Shine. Or, you could click HERE to buy a similar 2014 Hymns compilation by Travis, and you’d get 10 of these songs plus seven more.

The selection of songs on the companion DVD is somewhat different than the CD. Another difference is the DVD drops “Precious Memories” from the title and makes the main title Worship & Faith. We were not provided with a copy of the DVD to review, so please take the comments above only with respect to the content found on the CD.

Label: Gaither Gospel Series
CD Song Titles: Blessed Assurance; How Great Thou Art; In The Garden; Softly And Tenderly; I’ll Fly Away; Peace In The Valley; Precious Memories; Just A Closer Walk With Thee; The Unclouded Day; Sweet By And By; Are You Washed In The Blood?; Three Wooden Crosses
Rating: 3 Stars (scale of 1-5 stars)
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to this entire album at YouTube Music.

Mountain Frontier: A Musical Celebration Of The Pioneer Spirit by Scott Miller & Jim Wood is a concept recording featuring traditional instruments like hammered dulcimer, fiddle, and cello with occasional percussion and flute.

As you perhaps may gather from the list of song titles below, this is not primarily a gospel recording. I’m including it since the other titles in this series, Mountain Frontier Christmas and the upcoming Mountain Frontier Hymns, ARE primarily gospel. (It’s a good bit better than the Christmas release, too, which is another reason I wanted to include it.)

I did a little digging and found this same series with similar but different covers offered by a company called Pinewood Music, so I’m not sure exactly how long it was in circulation prior to being picked up for mainstream distribution by Green Hill Records. Another interesting side note is that on that earlier packaging, Miller’s given name is listed as “Derrifield” rather than “Scott.”

This recording is mostly a romp through some fun early American melodies. The two hymns “Sweet Hour Of Prayer” and “Amazing Grace” slow down the tempo for contrast. “Give Me Your Hand” and “Shebeg And Sheemore” also offer breaks from the fast pace of the various reels. The hammered dulcimer still gets a bit tiring after a while, but trading off melodies with the fiddle is a great improvement over the Christmas release.

Label: Green Hill Records
Song Titles: Candlelight Reel; The Old Natchez Trace; The Blarney Pilgrim – Haste to the Wedding; Liberty – Golden Slippers; Temperance Reel – Drowsy Maggie; Sweet Hour Of Prayer; Bonaparte’s March – Old Molly Hare; Give Me Your Hand; Sally Ann; Sheebeg And Sheemore; Soldier’s Joy; Amazing Grace
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 stars)
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to this entire album at YouTube Music.

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David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.


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